Sunday, 30 April 2006 17:00

Small community earns big dollars in relay walk

Written by Autobody News staff
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Teams of walkers circled the parking lot all night Friday into a sunny and cool Saturday morning at Stallworth Stadium in Baytown, as almost 3,700 onlookers, volunteers and individuals participated in the 9th annual American Cancer Society's Bay Area Relay for Life®. 

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Relay For Life is a fun-filled overnight event designed to celebrate survivorship and raise money to help the American Cancer Society save lives, help those who have been touched by cancer, and empower individuals to fight back against this disease. During the Bay Area event, teams of people gathered at a school stadium to take turns walking or running laps. 

Bates Custom and Collision, Baytown and North Channel, supports Relay for Life by participating in the event every year. At first it was done to help others who suffered from the effects of cancers, but recently cancer struck a little closer to home by touching the immediate Bates family, owners of the shops.

"Relay is much more than a walk around a track. It is a time to remember those lost to cancer and celebrate those who have survived. It is a night for people

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At the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life in Baytown, Texas, this race car pit stop was sponsored by Bates Custom & Collision in Baytown. Raising donations with the theme "We are racing for a cure!" team members gave rides to kids in the Bates race car train.

who have shared the same experience to comfort and console one another," explained Leila Bates, owner with husband Lee.

This year, Team Bates raised $5,195 to support cancer research. Each team sets up a campsite with a theme to beat cancer. Team Bates sported a race car theme with a train for kids to ride calling to "Stop cancer, It's the pits!"

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At the beginning of the Survivor Lap, Charles Bates, holding granddaughter Analise Bates, receives his medal for surviving cancer.

The relay consisted of 142 teams, which was up from last year's 137, and required at least one member of the group to walk around the track at all times to symbolize cancer is a sleepless disease. The event was moved to the parking lot outside of the stadium to accommodate the growing number of participants and the recent renovation of the field.

Bay Area Relay for Life, out of more than 300 events in Texas, remains the largest ACS fundraiser of its kind in the state for the past five years. This year's astounding amount is $503,544, according to preliminary figures.

"When you compare a city the size of Baytown to Houston or San Antonio or Austin and we raise more money than all of them, it's an incredible statement on the dedication of the city of Baytown," Baytown's ACS executive director Michelle Hicks said. "It's always amazing to me to see how dedicated this community is to fighting cancer, and to funding research, and serving patients and how they all come together."

Over the past nine years, the Bay Area Relay for Life has raised about $2.7 million.

Almost 300 cancer survivors walked the "survivors lap" - the honorary first lap of every relay. The Bay Area Relay for Life had 3,558 luminaria bags lighting the track for the Luminaria Ceremony on Fri-day evening. Luminaria sales amounted to $57,299 of the total money received thus far for the American Cancer Society. Each luminaria, white bag, has a name and they are read during the ceremony as friends and family stand next to the commemoratives to remind participants and themselves of the people who have lost their lives or are still surviving cancer, stated Bay Area Relay for Life tri-chair Leila Bates.

Donations can still be made to the Bay Area Relay For Life by mailing check or money order to Bay Area Relay For Life, P.O. Box 758, Baytown, Texas, 77522, or online at www.bayarearelay.org.

One day. One night. One community. The Bay Area Relay For Life is about celebration, remembrance, and hope. By participating, Team Bates honors cancer survivors, pays tribute to the lives lost to the disease, and raises money to help fight it - all right in their own community.

 

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